Can acollection company threaten me with prison?

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Can acollection company threaten me with prison?

I had an agreement to pay half the amount owed one month and the other half the next. I made the first payment but due to financial issues I could not make the second. The collection agent tried to get me to pay at least $50 before the end of the month or they would send me to court and jail. I asked to see all my paperwork but they refused; they said that since I was in AZ and the collection was on behalf of a payday loan company I would most certainly go to prison. The remaining amount owed is $270. Is there really a chance that I could go to prison over this amount?

Asked on August 9, 2011 Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is illegal for a person who has borrowed money to be threatened with criminal action for non-payment of a loan. The fact is that people don't go to jail for owing money. Debtor's prison went out about the time Charles Dickens. The exception to this would be would be if the borrower committed fraud in obtaining the money. That would be a crime. For example, if they conned someone into lending money with no intention to repay.  

Otherwise, neither a debt collector or creditor may threaten you with imprisonment or even the possibility of criminal charges.  If they do you can sue them. Further, they can not harass or otherwise intimidate you.  It's the law and its called the "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act" (FDCPA).  However, this doesn't mean that you don't owe the money.  In setting up a re-payment plan just be careful in what information that you give them (especially banking information). 


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